business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Oh, Radio Shack, you and I have been through so much together!


I remember the day as if it happened yesterday.

My Radio Shack Tandy 4000 Computer box taking up most of the kitchen. Unpacking the cords, the 90-pound screen, the manuals, the keyboard, the heavy metal box with the huge slits for something called “floppy disks.”

My Dad had bought and assembled a “computer desk” from Sears the night before. And there it sat, in our kitchen looking so futuristic in our drab 1987 world. I was so excited when I got to turn on the power first. We all sat in front of the machine listening to the warming up sounds, beeps and churns of the internal engine revving up. It was exhilarating!

And we watched in anticipation as the little space bar blinked at the very bottom of the screen. Blink, blink, blink. We waited. Turned it off, then turned it on again.

Blink, blink, blink.

Devastated, we packed up the whole thing and drove it back to Radio Shack thinking we had purchased a defective portal to the future. We were greeted by a uniformed, attentive and knowledgeable gentleman who helped us to carry all the heavy boxes in the store. My Dad knew that we would get it all straightened out, it was Radio Shack, after all!

I jumped into the conversation and explained the whole process and the disappointing result. He listened intently and said:

Miss, you just need to purchase software to run it”

Ah, sweet software. The magic elixir of the computer in 1987 and so few boxes even existed, but bought we did–operating system and a word processing program. It was really love-at-first-site for me– all those wonderful things my Tandy 4000 could do with those huge floppy disks. And best of all, I would become the expert in my family! Total win-win.

So today, as I think of Radio Shack and how it impacted my life, my ultimate career choice, and the push of the social media revolution, I am sad, but not surprised that it would file Chapter 13. Like its famous commercial of last year, it never did leave the 1980’s. That is probably how I can recall the whole event so clearly–every store looks exactly as it did in 1987, right down to the shirted experts who still greet you at the door!

And that is my point today, other than nostalgia: We can all learn something from those shirted experts. Customer service is essential to success. It is what carried this outdated chain of stores for 25 years beyond its expiration date. The faces of these technical experts who greeted you at the door changed, but not the store itself. It felt drab and uncool to go inside, like entering into your grandfather’s garage. Sure there was everything we needed, wanted and desired in there, but it just wasn’t cool to go inside.

Best Buy made Geeks the trendiest thing ever in the 2000’s, so much so that everyone was proud to be called a geek, but Radio Shack was the first place of Geekdom, it was theirs to take and they didn’t.

The lesson here is that we must understand our customers. Not just what they need and want, but how they feel about the experience of receiving it. Walking into the store felt like a portal back in time, even with the iPhone display right up front. Hello, Radio Shack Marketing Department:

You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig!

I am sad to lose the wonderful, knowledgeable and kind efforts of the Radio Shack employees. In several states, and coast-to-coast, I have always been greeted and helped each and every time I went to one of their stores. But I did secretly want it to be cool. I did want that bright light, Apple store appeal, and they didn’t offer that to me.

Keep that in mind when you are sitting down to figure out why your business isn’t growing as fast as you would like. Are you outdated? Are you listening to the under the breath comments and jokes about your business?

We all made fun of Radio Shack for years (and years!) Hey, they made fun of themselves in a million-dollar commercial. Too bad they weren’t listening.

*sigh, I will miss you Radio Shack. You were my first Geek-crush.

#radioshack, #geek, #customerservice #tandy4000 #customerexperience #applestore, #marketing, #socialmedia

Originally published on LinkedIn

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and schools feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

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